District Attorney secures parole denial for convicted murderer Richard Flowers

Richard Flowers was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole before being granted clemency by Gov. Newsom in March

TULARE COUNTY – Convicted Tulare County murderer Richard Flowers was denied parole for another three years earlier this month despite the Governor commuting his life sentence in March.

Richard Flowers
64 years old

On Sept. 10 via video conference, prosecutors with the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office argued against Flowers’ release and secured a three-year parole denial for the 64-year-old. In 1994, Flowers stabbed, strangled, and robbed 78-year-old Mary Eloise Garcia in her Tulare home. Flowers used the money and items stolen from his victim to buy cocaine. In 1996, a jury convicted Flowers of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of burglary and robbery, the special allegation that he personally used a deadly weapon, vehicle theft and receiving stolen property.

It was also found true that Flowers possessed two prior strikes and had served four prior prison terms for theft, burglary and fraud. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Flowers applied for clemency under former Governor Jerry Brown in 2018, but Brown took no action before leaving office. In March 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom granted clemency to Flowers, citing his alleged reform in prison. The California Constitution gives the Governor the authority to grant clemency, including in the form of a pardon or commutation. A clemency grant recognizes a person’s subsequent efforts in self-development. It does not forgive or minimize the harm caused by the crime. The commutation grants will allow the inmates to go before the Board of Parole Hearings for a hearing at which the Parole Commissioners determine whether the inmate is suitable for release from prison.

The granting of clemency, despite the sentence of life without the possibility of parole, entitled Flowers to a parole hearing.

“While I applaud the Board’s decision in this case, I am continually outraged by the lack of truth in sentencing in California. Clemency should not have been granted in this case to begin with,” said Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward. “It is quite clear that the voice of this office and that of our community was heard. I thank everyone who wrote letters and shared posts on social media in support of the victim’s family.”

Arguing against Flowers’ release was Assistant District Attorney Robert Dempsie, who prosecuted Flowers in 1996 and secured his conviction. Also present were five members of Garcia’s family, including children and grandchildren. Each spoke against Flowers’ potential release. TCDA victim advocates assisted the victim’s family.

“Never did I imagine that I would return to this case 24 years after the conviction considering the sentence of life without parole. It was an honor and a privilege to once again represent a family who had lost someone so dear to them, and the community as a whole who remembered the terrible events of this case,” said Dempsie. “I’m pleased that he was not released.”

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